Friday, March 13, 2015

The Power To Shine - Dynamo Powered

Yesterday was another big day in the Tour Divide training schedule. 

I was up early, partly to get a jump on the day and partly so that it would be dark. Yes, my dynamo hub wheel build was finished and it was time to test the K-Lite electrickery set-up on my bike.

 While K-Lite's 1000 lumen bikepacker light won't fry koalas at 50 metres(metric yards) like many other lights it is more than enough to get along at a good clip. The beauty of this set-up though is that as long as I pedal, the light stays on. To correct that, even after I stop pedalling the light will stay on for another 10 minutes via a capacitor/standlight built into the system.

Standlight/switch box
I was also testing my Sinewave Revolution USB charger. This little (literally) unit does an amazing job of converting the electrical output of the Shutter Precision hub into something that can be consumed by a gps, phone or camera, just to name a few items. Sweet!

The direction of the hub's output can be switched between the light and the usb charger. Today I had the charger powering my eTrex 30 gps directly, while I am waiting on a cache battery to arrive. Then I can have the charger charging the battery, while I run the gps/phone/camera from the battery.

So it was that I departed at 5am. The bike was loaded with enough sugary food to put a kindergarten full of kids into a diabetic coma, 3 litres of water and a bleary eyed driver. Through my bleary eyes I could see the path ahead quite nicely though. Thanks to Kerry from K Lite!

Today's ride would take in a large section of Brisbane Forest Park, similar to the training ride I did a few weeks ago. I wasn't 100% sure of the route, thinking I would just make it up once I got to the cafe on Mt Nebo. The early sections were easy to piece together as there is only one way from home when heading northbound and that is through Daisy Hill. 

I had the place to myself.

I passed the meeting spot for the Regular Daisy Hill Wednesday Morning Ride- about 17 minutes too early for there to be anyone waiting...............oh well.

Making easy kilometres(metric miles) I had time to take in the sweet running of my new bike. The SP hub was working as advertised and I was playing with the functionality of the top cap switch, switching between light and gps.

Almost like being in the bush already.....

I was soon on the south east bike way doing battle with cyclo commuters on their way to work. I had one flat pedal Fred drafting me for quite a way. He was quick but after a while I eased over to the left onto the sketchy edge of the path and with his skinny tyres, he got the hint to move along. I had a long way to go, so no racing for me.

The leafy suburbs on the southern foot of Mt Cootha beckoned and I was away from the hum of traffic. Not even the hum of mountain bike tyres could be heard on this stuff.

Climbing Sth Boundary road. 
For me there is something a bit soothing, almost comforting about settling into this climb. I guess I know it pretty well and know what to expect. It isn't the ugly monster that I once thought it to be. It has it's share of slogfest climbs and hooting/hollering downhill sections. Of course, the best bit is that once you get to the top, there is a cafe waiting for you.

However, today I was almost too early for the cafe'. My prefered one was still closed so I had to backtrack to the Boombana Cafe where I dined and perused my map.

I decided on a reverse lap of last month's ride and headed for Lightline Rd. On Forestry road there was a patch of smouldering bushland and many bush fire units parked up.


As I rode past the meeting that was going on I was asked by one of it's attendees if I was going down Lightline rd? "Why, yes. I am hoping to go down there" I replied. He informed me that it was closed due to the fact that they were going to have a controlled burn along it this morning. Bugger. Then, to his credit, he asked where I was intending to go. I said I was going to keep on going and going.....I wouldn't be coming back up. "Sweet", he said. "We won't be starting for an hour or so, so you will be fine. On your way."

The next half hour was awesome fun as I bombed down Lightline rd, with just the occasional climb.

I soon came to the bottom at Lake Manchester, which was blocked off for the burn.

From here I was planning on riding the new-to-me Mermaid Mountain rd. It was pretty much the only way to get back toward the eastern side of the forest but I did notice parts of the trail seemed to go up some serious contours on the map. This wasn't going to be easy.

Not too long after this it began to spit rain and as I bombed through a shallow creek crossing I heard a sharp hiss and the front end went all wobbly. Bugger! About as far away from home as I could be! I had staked the tyre and the hole was big, because the small bucket of Stan's sealant that I had put in the tyre just yesterday was no match for the hole. So, a tube went in

The trail around here was actually quite nice, being overgrown fire road with a dirt bike formed track in the middle.

Then, I came to the climb. And what a climb it was! Pictures never show how steep hills are but this one was like standing there and seeing the entire trail, all the way up to where it disappeared over the top. Great!

I tried to get a photo to show the steepness but to no avail. The trail just disappeared out of the bottom of the shot. On the plus side, this was great hike-a-bike training. I was reduced to pushing my arms(holding the bike) out, grabbing the brakes then taking one step up the hill, then repeat. This went on for about 35 minutes(according to the gps). As I reached the top I was pleased to note that while sweating profusely in the muggy 32C(90F) heat, my arms, back and importantly achilles were all doing it easy. There wasn't a twinge from any of these muscle groups. My strength training must be paying off!!

After patting myself on the back for this and while still grovelling up the slope I spied a bulge on my front tyre sidewall. Oh, no. The sidewall was slashed open and the tube was starting to burst out like something from Alien.I quickly let the pressure out of the tube. 

I was almost at the top of the climb now, so I focused on the next task of solving this tyre issue. I immediately thought to myself "why haven't I put a tyre boot in my kit yet?"  I needed a soft, yet solid piece of flat something-or-other to put in the tyre between the slit in the sidewall and the inner tube to stop the tube exploding out through the hole and me imploding in the middle of nowhere.

Luckily I had bought some spare batteries (in case the dynamo hub didn't function) and I was able to cut the clear plastic bubble that housed the batteries into a nice flat shape. While rummaging in my frame bag for my Leatherman, you could imagine my pleasure at discovering I had not one but two multitools along for the ride! Urrgh! But all good training I guess....?

I inserted the boot in between the sidewall and the inner tube. Pumping it up again and I was back in business. It held!

The next few hours involved much pushing up stupidly steep hills followed by white knuckle descents down equally steep, rocky hills. This was really testing my upper body strength as having the drop bars and brakes on the hood makes for much less controlability.  There were nice views back across to the ridgeline that I had just travelled down via Lightline Rd.

And a few sweet, forbidden pieces of singletrack goodness.

But it was mostly rocky and rugged. Perfect training territory!

Somewhere around the 100km(62mi) mark I must have missed a turn because I popped out in someone's backyard! I hadn't seen a trail off to my left but it must be there. I circled for a minute then headed off on a very disused looking section of trail that headed in the right direction.

It didn't.
When it came to a dead-end, I noticed that the ridge line was about 30m above me to the left. That is where the trail would be but how do I carry my bike up there?

As you can see in the photo above, the hillside was stupidly steep. Time to put that gym work to the test again! I must say, at about 7 hours into the ride I was pleasantly surprised that I had the strength to shoulder my bike and walk it up that slope without it feeling like hard work at all. Go gym work!!

Back on the Mermaid Mtn trail again I soon came to the Gold Creek Boundary break. I had ridden this trail years ago with Nick while on a training ride for The Epic. I was pretty green back then and I just remember it as a suffer fest. It was time to reacquaint my memory with the reality and the sign wasn't looking promising.

The next hour or so consisted of sceaming down steep, rocky descents with the brake levers pulled back to the bars, followed by hopping off and pushing up stupidly steep climbs. I must say, I was stopping often to check the map to avoid any unnecessary deviations from my intended track. This was getting tough!

The map AND the gps were assuring me I was on the right trail and I must admit to being a bit relieved when I finally saw Gold Creek Reservoir appear below me.

I celebrated by eating a banana as I cruised across the dam wall. There is a nice walk around the dam that I can bring the kids back for one day as well.

From here, there was a shortish climb back up to South Boundary Rd and I would be pointing homeward again. About 5 minutes into the climb my Camelbak ran dry. No water until Gap Creek now!

Once I was back on Sth Boundary rd, that familiarity kicked in. It felt paved road smooth and the pedals turned easily again. I was back down at the tap(spigot) in Gap Creek reserve before I knew it and greedily gulped down my fill. It was still hot so I put about 2.5litres into the Camelbak to get me home. That turned out to be about 500ml too little.

I dedcided to go home a slightly different way, through the Southbank precinct.

Here I was, covered in dust and shit, weaving my way through tourists eating ice creams and taking selfies with the city in the background. It felt so weird.

My photos taper off here as I noticed that my front tyre was slowly going flat. The Muru's handling is dramatically effected by the front tyre pressure which makes it very obvious when there is an inflation issue!

The next 20km consisted of me stopping every 3-4km, pumping the front tyre up as hard as I could, then riding until I was nearly pitched off on a corner or bump, then repeating the process. Around this time I had my first encounter with a Spot stalker - in the form of OutDoorGaz! His distinctive yellow FJ tried to cut me off/take me out just as I was slowing to pump that flippin' tyre again. A few minutes of chat brought me back to some semblance of sanity. Thanks mate. Right time, right place. ;)

My plan was to make it to 99 Bike Underwood to have a new tyre fitted. I made it just before closing time! Here they sorted me with a tyre and even tubelessly set it up. Cheers guys.

I hammered it home in peak hour traffic and couldn't get off the road fast enough to once again hit the trails through Daisy Hill. It was just going dark as I dropped down "Birdwing" in Cornubia and then I was home! I sort of peeled myself off the bike. Sore feet and a sore top of the rear of the legs region were my only real complaints.

So, all up I did 163km(102mi) with 3300m(10800') of climbing. I would have sworn that I did 4000m climbing though! It felt like I went up a LOT more hills today.

The take homes from today? 

  • My dynamo hub works a treat and I can't wait for my buffer battery to arrive.
  • The strength training that I have been doing is paying off
  • The Muru is a very capable mile-eater
  • I need to carry a tyre boot to patch cut sidewalls
  • I need to look at some custom foot beds for my shoes
  • I need to buy a quality pair of nicks that don't chafe me around the edges!
  • If I am tired or down, how that effects my outlook
  • I need to make sure I'm not carrying around 2 multi tools! Tool!!

To be honest, I am not sure how effective the training has been so far. Could I have ridden 164km on rough dirt prior to the training? Maybe.  Can I back up day after day for 3+ weeks of this? A big ask but one question I guess that I will be able to answer in about 12 weeks.

12 weeks?!! I'd better get cracking!

Cheers and thanks for checking in.


  1. Add a curved needle and some thread to your toolkit for stitching up big tears in the sidewalls before adding the inner boot.

  2. Geoff, yes, I should have put that in the bullet points. A canvas needle and some dental floss are going into the repair kit.

  3. Sounds like a lot of hard work. Good luck with the 3 weeks of riding, you going to need it.

    1. Nothing good was ever easy. Yep, I will need all the help/luck I can get.


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